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DA Price Announces Public Accountability Unit

PAU tasked with reviewing cases including the death of Mario Gonzalez.

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price issued a statement today announcing the creation of a Public Accountability Unit (PAU). This new unit will review eight officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, with the intention of reopening the cases for further review to determine whether charges should be filed or not. 

Alameda Post - Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price
Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. Photo Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

The PAU is tasked with holding law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct. The unit will be housed under a Civil Rights Bureau which oversees this newly-formed unit, as well as Brady compliance and cases reviewed under the Racial Justice Act. Senior Assistant District Attorney Kwixuan Maloof, lead attorney of the Civil Rights Bureau, will head the unit.

Price said, “We have seen many thoughts and prayers being bandied about the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The people of Tennessee want accountability – and so do the people of Alameda County. I promised accountability. This unit and its work are the start of the reckoning Alameda County has asked for holding people accountable for their misconduct.”

Cases to be reopened

Several of the cases that will be investigated by the PAU were recently reviewed by the DA’s office, under the direction of former District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, with findings in December 2022 that no criminal charges were justified.

The cases include the death of Mario Gonzalez on April 19, 2021 when Alameda Police officers responded to reports made to APD’s non-emergency line about a man acting strangely on Oak Street near South Shore Shopping Center. During the incident, officers first restrained Gonzalez by holding his arms then restrained him further by kneeling on his back until he became unresponsive.

“These reports were released at the 11th hour, just weeks before I took office. As the top prosecutor, I want to give each case a thorough review to ensure justice has not been forgotten,” said Price. “I’ve made sure that my Office has attempted to reached out to each of the families of the deceased. The healing process cannot begin until we do our due diligence.”

City of Alameda responds

The City of Alameda released a statement in response, pledging “Consistent with the City’s longstanding commitment to transparency and accountability, the City will cooperate fully with this review.”

Previously, the Post reported that DA O’Malley’s office released a report dated March 30, 2022 after comprehensively reviewing all of the evidence gathered, including the Coroner Investigator’s Report and Autopsy Report, and concluded that the officers involved in this incident are not criminally liable, stating that the evidence does not justify criminal charges against any law enforcement agency. The report stated that the officers’ decision to detain and arrest Mr. Gonzalez, and their subsequent use of force, was objectively reasonable considering agency policies, the totality of the circumstances, and the officers’ stated rationale.

Alameda Post - Mario Gonzalez
Cases like the death of Mario Gonzales will be investigated by the DA’s Public Accountability Unit.

An independent investigation, led by former San Francisco City Attorney and Supervisor Louise Renne of Renne Public Law Group, was launched by the City on April 23, 2021. That report was released to the public in May 2022 and found that no policy violations occurred. At present, two of the involved officers are assigned to desk duty, and the third has left the department.

Public Accountability Unit leader Maloof explained, “A reopening of these cases does not guarantee charges will be filed, but will give this office and my team time for a thoughtful review and to leave no stone left unturned.”

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